Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/251

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Reviews. 237

possibility of doubting, who is the mother of the child that is born ; no doubt or possibility of doubting that the child had a father. The only difference between the Arunta and other natives is that, whereas amongst other natives the question what is the totem of the child is decided by the simple consideration of what is the totem of the father or the mother, as the case may be, amongst the Arunta that consideration does not weigh.

From the fact that amongst the Arunta that consideration does not now weigh, Mr. Spencer and Mr. Frazer draw the inference that it never did weigh, either amongst the Arunta or, originally, amongst other natives. In order to prove that it did not weigh, Mr. Spencer and Mr. Frazer seek to show that it could not weigh. Now, to prove that it could not weigh, it is only necessary to make one assumption, viz. that the Arunta do not, and other natives originally did not, know that the woman who bears a child is its mother, or that the man who begets it is its father.

The assumption is contradictory to the facts as far as the Arunta are concerned, and may be rejected. We will, therefore, take it that the Arunta, like all the other natives, know that the woman who bears a child is its mother, and that the woman's recognised husband has the duties and rights of paternity. The position of affairs then is that the Arunta, knowing the totem to which the father belongs and the totem to which the mother belongs, disregard both and assign a totem to the child on a different principle. The principle on which the Arunta are said to go is that a child is the re-incarnation of an ancestral spirit : necessarily therefore the ancestral spirit retains, when re-incar- nated, the totem to which it belonged before it was re-incarnated — which totem may or may not be the same as that of one of the parents. How then is it possible to know what is the totem of the ancestral spirit thus re-incarnated ? It so happens that the Arunta believe that spirits, awaiting re-incarnation, wait at "certain definite spots," and that the spirits waiting at any one spot all belong to the same totem. When, then, the wife becomes aware that she is about to become a mother, it is evident that a spirit has entered her from the nearest spirit-haunt ; and that the spirit, who has entered her and will in due time be born as her child, belongs to the totem of the spirits who haunt that spot. It is